Students to walk out across US in call for gun reform

LITTLETON, Colo., April 20 (Reuters) - Thousands of students again walked out of classes across the United States on Friday, marking the 19th anniversary of the massacre at Columbine High School with a show of unity aimed at pressuring politicians to enact tighter gun restrictions.

Students from more than 2,600 schools and institutions planned to leave their classes at 10:00 a.m. local time, organizers said.

It was the second student walkout since the Feb. 14 massacre of 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, and the emergence of a national student movement to end gun violence and tighten gun restrictions.

Many of the demonstrators wore orange, a color that has come to represent the movement against gun violence, as they observed a 13-second silence in honor of those killed at Columbine.

25 PHOTOS
25 fatal school shootings since Columbine
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25 fatal school shootings since Columbine

April 20, 1999 - Columbine High School 

Photo Credit: Reuters

Nov. 20, 1999 - Deming Middle School, New Mexico 

(photo by Joe Raedle)

 February 29, 2000 - Buell Elementary School, Michigan 

Photo Credit: Reuters 

May 26, 2000 - Lake Worth Middle School, Florida 

Photo Credit: Reuters 

March 5, 2001 - Santana High School, California 

Photo Credit: REUTERS/Mike Blake MB/RCS

April 25, 2003 - Red Lion Area Junior High School, Pennsylvania

Photo Credit: Reuters 

September 24, 2003 - Rocori High School, Minnesota 

Photo Credit: Getty 

March 21, 2005. Red Lake High School, Minnesota

REUTERS/John Gress 

November 8, 2005 - Campbell County Comprehensive High School, Tennessee 

Photo Credit: Getty 

 Aug. 24, 2006 - Essex Elementary School, Vermont

 Photo Credit: Getty 

September 29, 2006 - Weston High School, Wisconsin 

(Photo by Darren Hauck/Getty Images)

October 2, 2006 - West Nickel Mines School, Pennsylvania 

(Photo credit should read STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images)

January 5, 2011 - Millard South High School, Nebraska 

Photo Credit: Getty

February 27, 2012 - Chardon High School, Ohio

REUTERS/Aaron Josefczyk 

December 14, 2012 - Sandy Hook Elementary, Connecticut 

 (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

October 21, 2013 - Sparks Middle School, Nevada. 

(Photo by David Calvert/Getty Images)

December 13, 2013 -  Arapahoe High School, Colorado

REUTERS/Rick Wilking 

June 10, 2014  - Reynolds High School, Oregon

(Photo by Natalie Behring/Getty Images)

October 24, 2014 -  Marysville-Pilchuck High School, Washington

REUTERS/Jason 

February 12, 2016 - Independence High School, Arizona 

Photo Credit: Getty 

September 28, 2016 - Townville Elementary, South Carolina

(Photo by Ricky Carioti/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

April 10, 2017 - North Park Elementary School, California 

 (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

September 13, 2017 - Freeman High School, Washington

Photo Credit: Getty 

January 23, 2018 - Marshall County High School, Kentucky

REUTERS/Harrison McClary

February 14, 2018 - Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Florida

(Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

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"I'm trying to get an education, but I still have a small fear that someone will come in with a gun," said Ayanna Rhodes, 14, who walked out of Washington International School to join hundreds of local students in front of the U.S. Capitol. "It's an issue that's been in this country for a long time."

Two gunman went on a shooting rampage at the Colorado high school in 1999, leaving 12 students and a teacher dead before killing themselves. The massacre stunned the nation but since then, school shootings have become commonplace. 

SEE ALSO: Parkland school shooter Nikolas Cruz went into shock after cops arrested him

Even as students prepared for their protest on Friday morning, news began trickling out that one person was wounded in a shooting at a high school near Ocala, Florida.

The latest gun violence unfolded about 225 miles (360 km)northwest of the Parkland high school, where two months ago a former student killed 17 people in the deadliest high school shooting in U.S. history.

Despite widespread revulsion over the school shootings, the issue of gun control remains sensitive in Colorado and across the country, where the Second Amendment of the Constitution guarantees the right to bear arms.

Dudley Brown, president of the Colorado-based National Association for Gun Rights, said the gun-control movement seeks to have the government take away constitutional rights. "The main objective of these students is to ban firearms completely, and confiscate the firearms of law-abiding Americans," Brown said. "We will oppose them at every step."

Students walked out of high schools in New York, Detroit and Washington, among hundreds of other cities and towns. Many were waving placards with slogans such as "No more gun violence" and "I should be worried about grades, not guns."

Outside the White House, scores of young protesters sat in silence while they listened to the names of gun violence victims read aloud.

The walkouts, speeches and drive to sign up voters were aimed at pressuring U.S. politicians to enact more restrictions on gun sales in the run-up to November's midterm congressional elections.

After walking out of class and observing the 13-second silence, students were free to decide how to demonstrate. National organizers suggested marches to the offices of local lawmakers, speeches, and voter registration activities.

On the evening before the national walkout, Colorado gun control activists rallied near Columbine High School, calling for an end to gun violence.

Carlos Rodriguez, a 17-year-old junior from Marjory Stoneman, traveled to Columbine for the anniversary, and said he found a sense of solidarity in the outpouring of support.

"That's the only thing that's keeping us Douglas students alive right now: the distraction of fighting for our rights and advocating for our lives," Rodriguez told Reuters. "It's the one thing keeping us hopeful, it's the one thing keeping us from not being able to sleep at night."

Columbine has not held classes on April 20 since the massacre, a district spokeswoman said, so there would be no walkout at the school. Students were encouraged to take part in community service.

The latest national rally came more than a month after tens of thousands of students from some 3,000 schools participated in the #ENOUGH National School Walkout to demand that lawmakers seek tighter gun control regulations.

It also followed "March For Our Lives" rallies in cities across the United States on March 24 that were some of the biggest U.S. youth demonstrations in decades, with hundreds of thousands of young Americans and their supporters taking to the streets to demand tighter gun laws.

More on the March For Our Lives

30 PHOTOS
Notable signs from the March For Our Lives rally
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Notable signs from the March For Our Lives rally
PARIS, FRANCE - MARCH 24: A large group of Americans and French hold a March for Our Lives anti-NRA anti-gun rally on Place de Trocadero, facing the Eiffel Tower, on March 24, 2018 in Paris, France. More than 800 March for Our Lives events, organized by survivors of the Parkland, Florida school shooting on February 14 that left 17 dead, are taking place around the world to call for legislative action to address school safety and gun violence. (Photo by Owen Franken - Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images)
Possible contender for my fave sign of the day from Erica. She made it at 1am last night, she said laughing!… https://t.co/fPogWRYRZL
Best signs at #marchforourlivesSTL #marchforourlives #enough #endgunviolencenow https://t.co/w7oaK5QJEw
I love this sign and I wonder if it would trigger @DLoesch. #MarchForOurLives https://t.co/QDU4rVDGk6
This sign deserves a pulitzer #marchforourlives (📸 @claremarienyc) https://t.co/9qHcEjbhq6
Enough said. #VetsVsTheNRA #MarchForOurLives https://t.co/9lLTgGrNbd
#SashayAway https://t.co/tGnrCnEqCK
I walked up as she was explaining the reference to an older gentleman https://t.co/KPyxmFsCAE
I’m at #MarchForOurLives In Boston and this is the best sign I’ve seen so far https://t.co/KhI9fPsORr
More signs here at #MarchForOurLives in D.C. https://t.co/TLxPr2vmbN
Listen to the youth. #MarchForOurLives https://t.co/jprvl6iTD3
💕she’s 4! #marchforourlives https://t.co/4TddUG5xXO
A woman just walked up to this young girl and asked about her sign. “There was a shooting at my high school this we… https://t.co/likqtFRQfx
A protest sign during the March for Our Lives Rally in Washington, DC on March 24, 2018. Galvanized by a massacre at a Florida high school, hundreds of thousands of Americans are expected to take to the streets in cities across the United States on Saturday in the biggest protest for gun control in a generation. / AFP PHOTO / Alex Edelman (Photo credit should read ALEX EDELMAN/AFP/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 24: A demonstrator holds a sign at the start of the March for Our Lives rally March 24, 2018 in Washington, DC. Hundreds of thousands of demonstrators, including students, teachers, and parents are expected to gather for the anti-gun violence rally, spurred largely by the shooting that took place on Valentine's Day at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida where 17 people died. (Photo by Zach Gibson/Getty Images)
TOPSHOT - A woman hoists a poster featuring Emma Gonzalez, a survivor of the February 2018 Florida high school shooting turned activist and advocate for gun control, at the March for Our Lives rally in Washington, DC on March 24, 2018. Galvanized by a massacre at the Florida high school, hundreds of thousands took to the streets in cities across the United States on Saturday in the biggest protest for gun control in a generation. / AFP PHOTO / Eva HAMBACH (Photo credit should read EVA HAMBACH/AFP/Getty Images)
PARKLAND, FL - MARCH 24: People hold signs as they participate in the March For Our Lives event at Pine Trails Park before walking to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on March 24, 2018 in Parkland, Florida. The event was one of many scheduled around the United States calling for gun control after a gunman killed 17 people on February 14 at the high school. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Participants hold up signs as students and gun control advocates hold the "March for Our Lives" event demanding gun control after recent school shootings at a rally in Washington, U.S., March 24, 2018. REUTERS/Leah Millis
UNITED STATES - MARCH 24: A demonstrator is seen in the Mall near the student-led March for Our Lives rally on Pennsylvania Avenue to call for action to prevent gun violence on March 24, 2018. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
PORTLAND, OR - MARCH 24: A protester holds up a sign disparaging the NRA at the March for Our Lives rally on March 24, 2018 in Portland, Oregon. More than 800 March for Our Lives events, organized by survivors of the Parkland, Florida school shooting on February 14 that left 17 dead, are taking place around the world to call for legislative action to address school safety and gun violence. (Photo by Natalie Behring/Getty Images)
HARTFORD, CT - MARCH 24: A demonstrator display her sign during the March For Our Lives Rally on March 24, 2018, at the Connecticut State Capitol in Hartford, CT. (Photo by M. Anthony Nesmith/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Protestors hold signs during a "March For Our Lives" demonstration demanding gun control in Sacramento, California, U.S. March 24, 2018. REUTERS/Bob Strong
People walk with signs against the NRA during "March for Our Lives", an organized demonstration to end gun violence, in downtown Los Angeles, California, U.S., March 24, 2018. REUTERS/Patrick T. Fallon
DENVER, CO - MARCH 24: Kristin Miller (C), of Littleton, Colorado holds up a sign as thousands of people participate in the March for Our Lives rally on March 24, 2018 in Denver, Colorado. More than 800 March for Our Lives events, organized by survivors of the Parkland, Florida school shooting on February 14 that left 17 dead, are taking place around the world to call for legislative action to address school safety and gun violence. (Photo by Ross Taylor/Getty Images)
MORRISTOWN, NJ - MARCH 24: A demonstrators holds up a sign 'Really?' with a the scales of justice tipped more for guns than students outside the Morristown Town Hall during the March For Our Lives in Morristown, New Jersey, U.S. on Saturday, March 24, 2018. Thousands of demonstrators, including students, teachers and parents gathered in Morristown, NJ for the antigun violence rally after the events in Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School which killed 17 people. More than 800 related events are taking place around the world to call for legislative action to address school safety and gun violence. (Photo by Ira L. Black/Corbis via Getty Images)
Demonstrators hold signs while gathering on 6th Avenue during the March For Our Lives in New York, U.S., on March 24, 2018. Thousands of high school students and other gun-control advocates gathered in Washington and across the U.S. Saturday to demand tougher firearms restrictions from an older generation that's delivered little change after years of mass shootings. Photographer: Jeenah Moon/Bloomberg via Getty Images
A demonstrator holds a sign that reads 'Hey, Hey, NRA! How Many Kids Have You Killed Today,' while gathering on 6th Avenue during the March For Our Lives in New York, U.S., on March 24, 2018. Thousands of high school students and other gun-control advocates gathered in Washington and across the U.S. Saturday to demand tougher firearms restrictions from an older generation that's delivered little change after years of mass shootings. Photographer: Jeenah Moon/Bloomberg via Getty Images
A demonstrator holds a sign while gathering on 6th Avenue during the March For Our Lives in New York, U.S., on March 24, 2018. Thousands of high school students and other gun-control advocates gathered in Washington and across the U.S. Saturday to demand tougher firearms restrictions from an older generation that's delivered little change after years of mass shootings. Photographer: Jeenah Moon/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Demonstrators hold signs while gathering on 6th Avenue during the March For Our Lives in New York, U.S., on March 24, 2018. Thousands of high school students and other gun-control advocates gathered in Washington and across the U.S. Saturday to demand tougher firearms restrictions from an older generation that's delivered little change after years of mass shootings. Photographer: Jeenah Moon/Bloomberg via Getty Images
WASHINGTON, USA - MARCH 24: A woman holds a banner reading 'Grandmas For Gun Control, Because Our Hugs Can't Protect Them From Everything' during 'March For Our Lives' protest against gun violence in the country on March 24, 2018 in Washington, United States. (Photo by Chris Williams/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
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It was not immediately clear whether Friday's turnout would match those of the earlier protests. (Additional reporting by Ian Simpson in Washington; Editing by Frank McGurty and Jonathan Oatis)

 

 

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